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Memorials of Mihály Fazekas in Debrecen

Mihály Fazekas, the famous native of Debrecen, was born  255 years ago, on January 6, 1766. In Debrecen we can monuments to his legacy in several places all over the city including a school and a street which bears his name, in addition many statues and reliefs commemorate his life.

The only surviving portrait of Mihály Fazekas

Mihály Fazekas became a soldier at the tender age of 16 . In the 1790s, after several years of military service, he returned to his hometown of Debrecen as a decommissioned and retired lieutenant, where he lived until his death, on February 23, 1828.

Returning from the military, Fazekas took an active part in public life in Debrecen . He understood smart farming, so he became the treasurer of the Reformed College and the city.  He organized the so-called Debrecen so-called. A “civilian army” (today, police) of which he became captain. From 1808, he commissioned the Reformed Church of Debrecen to carry out the construction of the Great Church , which was built on the site of the Gothic church that burned down in 1802, of which he was also elected director.

Of course he continued to write poems , and in 1819 he started the Hungarian “Calendar of Debrecen” , which published fiction and educational readings , and was the editor until his death.

He was also actively involved in botany and together with Diószegi Samuel were the first Hungarian herbalists. He founded the former site of Paptava (today Deri Square) in the Botanical Garden , which was designed to help the neighboring Reformed College students in science education. Unfortunately, he died before it opened.

Statue of Mihály Fazekas and Sámuel Diószegi in the botanical garden of Debrecen

His former home was at 58 Piac Street where a memorial plaque was placed on the facade of the building, still visible on the site today, made by the famous sculptor András Tóth (father of the poet Árpád Tóth). The memorial plaque features 5 scenes from Matyi Lúdas on six oval reliefs , and another depicts  a Potter and Chocolates while drinking wine. The two poets had a good friendship, and they met many times.

Pottery plaque at 58 Piac Street

Fazekas began his studies at the Reformed College in Debrecen, where he was also taught by the famous Professor István Hatvani. It was here that he began to take an interest in the natural sciences, which played an important role in his life after the military. Its former school, a relief depicting a portrait on the façade of the Reformed College of Debrecen, and a name engraved on a marble plaque on the wall of the courtyard of the University of Debrecen preserve its memory.

The school bearing his name opened on Hatvan Street in 1873 bears the name of Mihály Fazekas from the 1922-1923 school year. The school is not located only in Debrecen, but is one of the best grammar schools in the country .

The statue erected in 1907, on the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Herb Book, in honor of the writers of the first Hungarian Herb Book, Mihály Fazekas and Sámuel Diószegi, is modestly drawn on Perényi Street. The sculpture, made of sandstone was made by sculptor Sándor Somogyi. It depicts a symbolic male figure, Nature, who lovingly embraces young children who are engaged with and playing with flowers. The statue was originally an ornament of the herb garden of the Reformed College in today’s Déri Square. It was moved to its present location in 1920 due to the construction of the Déri Museum.

Sculpture on Perényi Street

In the Botanical Garden of the University of Debrecen there is a small clearing by Mihály Fazekas and Sámuel Diószegi, the joint sculpture of the two famous botanists , the sculptor Ede Kallós.

The Debrecen Amusement Park , opened in 1960 and still operating today , was named after the protagonist of Mihály Fazekas’ famous work, Matyi Lúdas. The aluminum sculpture depicting Matyi Lúdas at the entrance to the park is the work of Jenő Grantner from 1962.

Statue of Matyi Lúdas in the amusement park
(image source: közterkep.hu)

The tomb of Mihály Fazekas is located in the ornamental garden of the Debrecen Public Cemetery. His tombstone was made by sculptor András Tóth.